Senbet Abay or Super Sunday…You name it!

About Eritrea - Art & Sport

Tigre speakers call Sunday Senbet Abay (Big Sunday) for its greatness. Sunday is a day for relaxation. It is said locally that even the sea rests on Sunday.

You might have seen last weekend’s culture and arts column. Here is another to give you a weekend sensation, you are reading it sitting your couch, enjoying the morning sun, or waiting for a bus to visit a friend, or having a scrumptious breakfast to fill in your belly.

Weekends are commonly taken as days off from work. From the tedious weekdays people spend, at work or school, weekends bring a relief for people to relax and do some leisure time activities.  At weekends families gather unlike in the other days. It is when “home” is really enjoyed with coffee ceremony and watching a television serial.

Saturday, however, is not really a day off for some people, as it is the sixth working day. Sunday, on the other hand, is fully reserved for hot baths and good smells, delicious food women make and for men to play and watch soccer.

Sunday is simply full of activities in urban cities. Those people who prefer to stay indoors on this day do so wearing their shorts and T-shirts, a chance for such cloths to make it out of the wardrobe. The day is simply simple and people love it for its simplicity. Doing some serious thing, even sometimes studying for exams, on a Sunday is like a taboo; you are told to “keep calm and enjoy the day”.

On Sundays, it is customary for many people to go to the church early in the morning followed by buttery porridge, sometimes if not always. The heavy breakfast makes families skip lunch hours and lunch is often served late in the afternoon.

I usually wake up early on this day and see women are in their white dress returning from church, holding their Seti (sedge for their morning coffee ceremony).

On this day, it is all safe. There is less traffic and the streets are quiet and calm. One can walk leisurely and cross the roads. Markets are closed, except for small shops and grocery in residential neighborhoods. If you are thinking of a chicken stew for Sunday lunch, you must have thought about it on Saturday and have your supplies, or else, you would need to check the wedding invitation cards you received.

Those who spent Saturday night clubbing probably are struggling with their hangover and spend the day tossing and turning in bed. It is calm and enjoyable to walk on a Sunday and grab a cappuccino in the quiet Asmara Cafes any hour.

Men in their thirties or forties reserve Sunday morning for soccer.  Playing fields are full of teams playing soccer. I recall a childhood memory when we used to play early mornings and if by any chance we don’t find a ball, we would spend hours making(rag ball) or searching for one, so as not to miss the day without playing.

Sunday afternoon, people watch on the European soccer matches, especially the Premier League and Laliga that drive football fans crazy until late evenings. When I was a college student I rejoiced myself sitting in a sofa and watching four matches in a day. I believe that there should be something you feel to be part of and which makes you happy. Being part of football is really fun, guys would understand this.

The bets and shouts in Asmara Cafes when a goal is scored or an attempt is made makes all towns (I have been to some other towns as well) look more interesting than ever and makes you see the true peaceful and enjoyable unity among the youth of the country. Women in their spectacular outfit walking home after attending weddings get shocked upon hearing the loud noise of the audiences watching football in this cafes. The emotions and sometimes created tensions among spectators makes café owners to think more about whether to keep letting this people watch or think some other income generating offers.

Sunday is also a common day for most couples to hangouts: walks, dinner, date or a ride to Dirfo.  Seating on the tip of the mountains while taking the fresh air with a gulp of a cold Melloti beer is breath-taking, topped by the spectacular view of the Massawa railway roads curl down the mountains.

Celebrations are often held on Sundays, weddings, graduations, baptisms and Equb or Mahber (traditional informal get together of money collection).  Trips and tours are often arranged on Sundays.

Cycling competitions are scheduled on this day and Eritrea is famous for its cycling heroes.

Some people prefer to spend the day at home without anyone disturbing them. While in summer, the rainy season, many prefer to stay in bed to avoid the rains. Those who have their wedding in summer the showers annoy them as they ruin their day. After rain stops, people in town enjoy walking along the Harnet avenue and delight by the clear skies.

Nobody wants to miss Sunday. It is both religiously and culturally seen as a blessed day. You better not miss Super Sunday.